Retail sales were steady over the year to January beating retailers’ expectations of a slight slowdown, according new data from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The organisation’s latest monthly Distributive Trends Survey of 126 companies found that 41% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in January on a year ago, while 25% said they were down, giving a balance of +16.
The was a little lower than the previous month of +19 but above expectations of +9.
Some 30% of retailers reported sales volumes to be good for the time of year, with 14% reporting them to be poor – a balance of +16.
Meanwhile, 20% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 32% placed fewer, giving a rounded balance of -13%. The CBI said orders are set to fall again next month to -10%.
Growth in internet sales volumes in the retail sector slowed to +27%, this was below the survey average of +50%.
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI’s director of economics, said: “Retailers have had a steady start to the year through the January sales period. However with competition remaining fierce and persistent price deflation in the sector, it’s not surprising the outlook for retailers in February looks subdued.
“Mild weather looks to have hit clothing sales, but current low oil prices continue to support consumer spending. Retailers will be looking to the Budget for decisive action to reform the cumbersome and outdated business rate system.”